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A despondent Steve Nash shared his anger and frustration over the killing of Daunte Wright by a police officer in a town near Minneapolis on Sunday.
“More tragedy, more senseless tragedy…. Heartbreaking for everyone - I think, I hope - to be in a civilization that behaves this way. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be African American, to be an African American parent,” Nash said prior to Tuesday’s Nets-Timberwolves game in Minneapolis.
“It’s unacceptable. And it’s devastating to put yourself in their shoes and it’s devastating just to be a part of it. We’re all a part of this community, civilization, culture,” Nash added. “And it’s the same thing over and over again. People are losing their lives for no reason. And it’s been happening for hundreds of years. And we’re still here in 2021. So it’s a tough time. It’s a tough time for basketball to be at the forefront. But at the same time we have to move forward and take care of our responsibilities amidst such a devastating situation.”
The Nets-Timberwolves game was originally scheduled for Monday night. The NBA announced on Monday afternoon that the game would be postponed “in light of the tragic events in the Minneapolis area (Sunday)…. The decision to postpone was made by the NBA after consultation with the Timberwolves organization and local and state officials. Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Daunte Wright during this difficult time.”
Nash was asked how he knew if his team was in the right frame of mind to play. The coach referenced what he sees as an unfortunate reality of our country at the moment: in the wake of events that result in seemingly avoidable death, the country as a whole just keeps ‘moving forward.’
“All of us are programmed to keep moving forward and it keeps happening. And so, you know, that's worrisome in a sense. We all want to play, we all want to do our job, we all love what we do, but it is worrisome that life just keeps moving forward but nothing really changes,” Nash said. “So it's just a lot of conflict I think internally for everybody.”
During the NBA’s re-started 2019-20 season in the Disney bubble, players decided to sit out of playoff games to protest a police killing in Milwaukee.
Nash was asked if he felt conflicted about returning to the court on Tuesday afternoon for Brooklyn’s rescheduled game against the Timberwolves.
“It’s a tough one. So OK, we don’t play today. If we’re not playing for the right reasons, that’s 100 percent OK. But what does it change if we do play today or don’t play today?” Nash said. “Change needs to come - meaningful change needs to come at some point - and we could debate whether or not playing today would bring about meaningful change.
“I think meaningful change is much, much deeper than a basketball game, so what can we do to support meaningful change? Those are conversations that I don’t think pivot on one game. Now, I’d be all for not playing today if there was a step-by-step, sort-of procedural reasoning behind why and I’m not sure we have that reasoning as to why (and) what it would change.
“We all want change, and I’m not sure that this game, played or not, is gonna bring about that change. It’s a much bigger issue than a basketball game, and that’s the tricky part of this. Before you know it, we’ll be in Philly, then we’ll be back home, and then we’ll be in the next city and, this poor kid lost his life. A baby lost a father. It’s sickening.”
Nash added that he and the organization support the players on and off the court in the wake of events such as Sunday’s, but he noted that there wasn’t a ton of meaningful dialogue to be had since these types of avoidable deaths continue to occur.
“It’s one of those difficult situations where – what’s new? The players, how many times in their careers have they faced a situation like this? This just happens to be we’re in Minnesota when another event happens on top of what happened last year,” Nash, the Nets’ first-year head coach, said. “So, you know, it’s a terrible, terrible situation. And I think the players – many, in some respects, basketball is a little bit of solace (for them) where they have some control.
“It’s just a really difficult situation,” Nash added. “We’re here for them, but it’s – there’s not a ton of conversation to be had in the sense that we’ve been talking about this for a few years now. At minimum in the NBA.”